Top Tips for Travelling with your Pet

LAST UPDATED 6 NOVEMBER 2019

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Teagan Lever BVSc

Road tripping is always an exciting time, especially if you've got your furbaby along for the ride! While it may be tempting to just jump in the car and get going, there are a few important things to remember to keep them safe and happy along the way.

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1. Do a Trial Run

If you've never travelled with your best friend before, it's a good idea to do a couple of short car trips with them first. Some pets love the car and will settle in quickly, while others may be anxious, unsettled, or even experience motion sickness. Whether your pet is a seasoned traveller or not, see our top tips below on how to prepare them for the trip ahead.

2. Leave The Nasties Behind

Depending on where you're travelling to, it's important to make sure your pet is protected against parasites and infectious diseases, some of which can be deadly. If you're travelling along the eastern coastline, make sure they're up to date with prevention against paralysis ticks. These ticks are reported to be most active during Spring and early Summer, however year-round protection is recommended in at-risk areas.

There's a range of products available for dogs including tablets, spot-on treatments, and tick collars. My personal favourite is Nexgard Spectra because it protects dogs against all the four major parasites which also includes fleas, heartworm, and intestinal worms. It's a monthly tablet and most dogs will eat it right out of your hand. For cats, some great spot on treatments are now available including Bravecto for Cats and Revolution Plus.

Heartworm, the parasite transmitted by mosquitoes, is most prevalent in tropical and northern temperate areas of Australia. For spot-on treatments in cats, I recommend either Advocate or Revolution which will also protect your kitty against fleas and intestinal worms. For dogs, there's a range of options, including Milbemax, Sentinel and Comfortis Plus which are all monthly tablets. You can also speak to your vet about a yearly heartworm injection for your dog. Remember, if you're travelling for over a month be sure to bring an extra supply along with you so your pet remains protected.

3. Check The Fine Print

Before you head off, check that your pet is up to date with their annual vaccinations. Kennel cough is a highly infectious cough that your dog can develop if they're not protected or overdue for their vaccination. Another infectious disease called Leptospirosis is also prevalent in the northern parts of Australia, so if you're travelling up that way speak to your vet about a vaccination course prior to leaving.

Microchipping can save a lot of worry if you become separated from your pet during your travels, so ensure that all your details are up to date prior to leaving. Identification tags are also a good idea to have attached to your pet's collar.

4. Safety First

To keep your pet safe while you travel it's important that they are restrained appropriately. This prevents injury if you are to brake suddenly and it also prevents them from jumping out if the windows are open. And while it's easy to watch all the funny and interesting things our pets do, distraction by an unrestrained pet can easily become dangerous. Plan ahead and research the road rules relevant to your state before you travel.

If you're travelling with your dog, we've got a range of products to keep them safe. There are Booster Seats for doggies who love to watch the world go by. They are available in two sizes and are fitted with an internal harness attachment to keep them secure. Outdoor Paws make Travel Pods in five different sizes, which you can use both in the car and as a comfortable bed for them to sleep in while you're away. There's also a range of dog harnesses and other car restraints. If you've got a large dog or an older friend who has difficulty getting into the car, try a dog ramp to make it easy for both of you.

If your feline friend is along for the ride, a cat carrier will help to keep them safe. There's are also suitable for small dogs. If your cat is using one of these for the first time, try leaving it around the house the week before so they can investigate it for themselves. Place a comfy blanket inside and they may even use it willingly as their new favourite snoozing spot.

5. Calming Aids and Nausea Remedies

Not all pets enjoy car trips and for some, it can actually be a significant source of anxiety for them. If this sounds like your pet, there are a range of calming aids that you can try. It's a good idea to try these well in advance of the main trip to see which one works best for your pet.

If your cat or dog suffers from motion sickness, Natural Animal Solutions Traveleze contains a combination of natural ingredients such as ginger, withania, and chamomile which may help to ease nausea. It's a liquid which can be either administered orally or onto the food. Your local veterinarian can also provide advice and dispense medication for pets who suffer from motion sickness.

Pheromones also have a role in some anxiety-related disorders in our pets. Adaptil collars continuously release an appeasing pheromone to promote feelings of calm in your dog. For cats, you can try spraying Feliway in the cage prior to leaving to help manage anxiety. Feliway is a synthetic pheromone that cats normally release when they rub up against objects in their environment to mark their boundaries.

Enjoy your travels!

Travel Checklist

  • Feed and exercise at least 2 hours prior to departure
  • Food and water bowls
  • Collar with ID tag
  • Lead
  • Car restraint device - harness/seat belt/booster seat/carrier
  • Favourite toy
  • Parasite protection - up to date and additional if required
  • Vaccinations up to date
  • Copy of veterinary record
  • Any medications your pet requires
  • Calming aids if required
  • Grooming supplies
  • Regular drink and toilet stops